Category Archives: Jaguar

Jaguar debuts three new models for 2018

Jaguar debuts three new models for 2018

By Vince Bodiford

Jaguar came to Michigan to debut three new models, which now includes a wagon. From left – the new XJR saloon, E-Pace crossover SUV, and the XF Sportbrake (wagon). Inside the E-Pace (shown), the lines are clean and understated luxury.

Photos by Jaguar

Lineup now includes a wagon and a small SUV

Jaguar chose Novi, Michigan to introduce three new models to the expanded 2018 lineup, including the all-new E-PACE SUV, XF Sportbrake and XJR575 sedan. The new Jaguar vehicles were showcased last week for the first time in North America in Novi at The Art of Performance Tour, an award-winning immersive consumer test drive and engagement experience.

To celebrate the North American launch of Jaguar’s new compact performance SUV, the Jaguar E-PACE is featured in urban locations in a series of ‘warped reality’ pictures by digital artist Chris Labrooy that were on display throughout the event. Jaguar has also released a short film describing some of the inspiration and detail behind the design of the new Jaguar E-PACE.

In 2015, the brand announced a new approach in the U.S. market with updated pricing and customer care strategies aimed at transforming its presence in the market ahead of launching the Jaguar XE and F-PACE. Since then, Jaguar was the fastest growing automotive brand in 2016 and the F-PACE, as well as the new XE, led to doubling of the Jaguar brand’s annual sales.

Jaguar is now expanding its 2018MY lineup to offer customers an even greater selection of vehicles, including a family of SUV vehicles, sedans and the iconic F-TYPE sports car – all backed with Jaguar EliteCare, an ownership package with five years or 60,000-mile limited warranty, complimentary scheduled maintenance, roadside assistance and Jaguar InControl Protect & Remote.

“Starting with the 2016 Model Year we set out to transform the Jaguar brand in the U.S. which has resulted in steady growth and improving brand health,” said Joe Eberhardt, President & CEO, Jaguar Land Rover North America. “Today, with the addition of three new models, led by the E-PACE SUV, we are writing the next chapter in the modern Jaguar history.”

The new 2018 Jaguar E-PACE is a five-seat compact performance SUV that packs the design and performance of a Jaguar sports car into a practical and connected all-wheel drive vehicle. With sporty design cues and trademark Jaguar driving dynamics, the E-PACE joins the growing Jaguar SUV family alongside the all-electric I-PACE Concept and the F-PACE performance SUV. Pricing for the E-PACE starts from $38,600.

“The Jaguar E-PACE offers the perfect balance between performance, luxury and playfulness, bringing a unique sense of expression to the compact SUV market,” said Ian Callum, Director of Design, Jaguar. “As we continue to expand our Jaguar vehicle portfolio, consumers can expect to have access to new levels of design, performance and engineering across our SUVs, sedans and sports cars.”

The Jaguar XF Sportbrake marks the Jaguar brand’s return to the premium station wagon in the U.S. On sale in late 2017, the XF Sportbrake offers generous interior space and delivers a near perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution. At launch, it comes powered with the V6 380hp and available in the S trim only. Pricing for the XF Sportbrake S starts from $70,450.

The Jaguar XJR575, the brand’s latest full-size super sedan, continues a heritage of luxurious refinement and interior comfort for Jaguar sedans featuring upgraded performance and unique design touches. With speeds up to 186mph, it has more power than any previous XJ and features a specially tuned 5.0L supercharged V8 engine. Pricing for the 2018 XJR575 starts from $122,400.

The Art of Performance Tour is an award-winning test drive and digital engagement experience that enables consumers to get up close and personal with the latest Jaguar models and star in a sharable short action film, The Audition. At the event, I also got behind the wheel of the Jaguar XF, XE, F-TYPE and F-PACE in a series of driving exercises, all of which were a hoot.

For more information, see a Jaguar dealer or visit JaguarUSA.com.

Test Drive by Vince Bodiford

2018 Jaguar F-Type Coupe

Test Drive:

2018 Jaguar F-Type Coupe

By Vince Bodiford

Jaguar brand conveys the idea of vehicles that are beautiful and fast – and the 2018 Jaguar F-Type delivers that promise. Photos by JAGUAR.

English exotic is a thrill to drive

The name Jaguar itself spurs the imagination and brings to mind the storied cars of today and yesterday wearing that brand – cars that are beautiful and fast. From the earliest days to today, we expect our senses to be overwhelmed behind the wheel or riding in any Jaguar. The 2018 Jaguar F-Type dishes that out in no small measure. Available in closed coupe and convertible, we chose the open-air ragtop for this test. Bottom line: it’s a pure thrill to drive.

This is not an every-day high volume car, but rather a very specialized machine that is much like putting on your Sunday best or finest watch for a special occasion. It that realm, it is indeed automotive jewelry.

Already recognized as the most dynamically capable and performance-oriented Jaguar, the F-TYPE sports car continues to evolve for 2018, with a fresh look, new powertrain options and the addition of standard technology features previously unavailable.

VEHICLE HIGHLIGHTS:

MSRP starting at $59,990 plus shipping and fees.

(Easily optioned-up to over $100k).

Fuel economy estimates range from 20-mpg city to 28-mpg highway.

Built by Jaguar Land Rover in England.

Vehicle Highs: Beautiful and Fast. Instantly recognizable as a Jaguar. Throaty exhaust note.

Vehicle Lows: Interior is a bit tight. Some center controls are out of easy driver reach.

Top Rivals: Any luxury high-performance coupe, especially the Corvette Stingray and Porsche 911.

Since its launch in 2012, the all-aluminum two-seater has firmly established itself as a strong competitor in its sports car segment and has won nearly 160 awards worldwide. The balance of seductive design, stunning performance and outstanding dynamics has always made the F-TYPE unique.

For the 2018 model year the F-TYPE offers more driver-focused technologies and a broader model range; now comprising of 24 derivatives that include an all-new turbocharged 296-hp Ingenium four-cylinder entry model, a number of supercharged V6 options and even the 200mph, all-wheel drive 575 hp V8 powered F-TYPE SVR.

“Great sports car design is about proportion and purity,” said Ian Callum, Director of Design, Jaguar. “For the F-TYPE, we looked at how we could fine-tune key details to deliver even more clarity of purpose in the overall design – for the driver, the passenger and onlookers.” No doubt, with this car those goals were achieved.

Like the exterior, the interior of the 2018 F-TYPE, evolves into a purer, more concentrated expression of the car’s original elegance and sportiness. The Jaguar interior design team focused on refining a handful of key elements to create a greater sense of harmony in the finishes, enhance the sense of balance between luxury and performance, and to introduce new material options that give the car a more exotic feel.

From day one the F-TYPE has been engineered to provide outstanding agility and response without compromising the day-to-day usability and ride comfort expected from all Jaguar cars.

“We wanted the power and efficiency of the new four-cylinder engine to be matched by levels of responsiveness that would make the F-TYPE driving experience even more engaging and rewarding,” said Mike Cross, Chief Engineer, Vehicle Integrity, Jaguar Land Rover. “The result of the intensive development process is an even better balance, an even more connected feel, and enhanced ride comfort. Enthusiasts will want to drive this car: this is a true F-TYPE, with its own unique character.”

The objectives of the Jaguar vision for the F-TYPE have been very well put to metal and leather for 2018, the result quickens the pulse and warms the heart all at once.

Lastly, let’s clear up how the name is pronounced. Jaguar is said “Jag-you-are,” not “Jag,” or worse, “Jag-wire.” You say the word Jaguar with a pronounced English accent – which as it turns out, is exactly how the car is made. It is very English.

For more information, see your local Jaguar dealer or visit www.JaguarUSA.com

Test Drive by Vince Bodiford

2005 Jaguar XJR (555)

Overview:

Oh – my – gawd! “Yeah it’s me and I’m in love again…” Can’t you just hear the melody and maybe even more of the lyrics come back to you. If this 2005 Jaguar XJR isn’t one of the sexiest cars on the planet, I’m not Italian. What did you say mom, my father was who? OK, so you tell me. Is this a sexy car or what?

Many will not agree that Ford has been a positive influence on the production of today’s Jaguars. Ok, so it was Norm, my friend who has owned a few of these lovely “Cats” who challenged my opinion. Norm sites his personal experience that he never had a problem with any of his Jags.

For my part I go with the experience brother John and I had in owning a foreign car repair shop for about 15 years. Jags were as bad as FIAT’s from Italy. Remember what F – I – A – T stands for. Fix It Again Tony! Well the Brits were as bad. BMW was also a mechanics dream. One other that tops the list is the Audi. These four car brands seemed most troublesome for our customers. It was good for the repair business but bad for the auto industry generally. That situation has improved greatly over the past couple of decades.

I feel there has been a big change in today’s Jag, thanks Ford, no matter what Norm says.

I drive a lot of nice cars but somehow this weeks ride inspired me to want to get out to the theatre to see Wagner (Vaaag-nerr) at the Hollywood bowl with friends. Richard, Carol, Laura and I found that we were more impressed with the car, the two buck Chuck and KFC than the music. But in the final analysis it’s the people we share with that are most important. The LA Philharmonic is wonderful, but it was not one of those inspiring performances in spite of the wonderful summer California evening in one of the most lovely of settings.

Handling & Performance:

Spectacular. Better than sex. You’ll look forward with childish enthusiasm to driving somewhere – anywhere. In fact you’ll make excuses why you should go some place. Not only will you ride in style, you’ll get to the theatre in a flash. This is a Supercharged smoother than snot fast piece of machinery. Hold me back!

But you can’t hold the Supercharger back. By its nature it provides an instant off the line power surge. You’ll remember the difference between Supercharging and Turbocharging is that Superchargers run off the engine by way of a belt and pulley like your alternator or air conditioning pump. The Turbocharger operates off of a turbine powered by the exhaust. So the Turbocharger gives a surge only after RPM’s get high enough to generate the force. That can be annoying.

Styling: 

Traditional and therefore identifiable Jaguar styling. Perhaps this is one of the most recognizable of luxury cars. And one of the reasons is the consistent design principle they have followed for many years. In a world of sharp lines and edges, this Jag has held to its unique rounded curves we’ve come to recognize. It is simply a very elegant design that makes you feel special too.

But I’ve got a couple of complaints. The sun visors in this Jag do not extend. To Jag and every other carmaker who make the visors too short – shame on you. The other bitch is the way they’ve designed the front seats. The sides of the seat bottom are too narrow and annoyingly uncomfortable.

Fit and Finish:

Norm says it isn’t as good as before. It’s a Foooooord. Sorry Norm I don’t buy it. And what’s more this is still built in Great Britain – I suspect by the same guys and gals who assembled Norm’s Jags when the company was totally British.

Cost:

Lots! You don’t get away cheap for all this luxury, performance and especially image that will set you back the average price of most houses in this country.  For everything else you can use your Visa card.

Conveniences:

Everything your little heart can imagine is at your car driving fingertips. Perhaps the most useful and memorable is the laser assisted smart Cruise Control. They refer to it as adaptive. Whatever you call it, it should be required standard equipment in every car that’s made.

Consumer Recommendation:

Wow – when you look at the company this Jag keeps it is very impressive and you wonder if it is out of class. I’ve driven all except this Maserati and no matter the cost this Jag is distinguished. The Phaeton is (was – it is discontinued) technically a Bentley but must overcome the fact it is built by Volkswagen. I don’t believe it ever can do that, even though it is at the top of my picks of this list.

The Competition: 

Jaguar XJ Series $61-90,000, Maserati Quattroporte $95,500, Infiniti Q45 $56,400, Audi A8 $67-117,000, Volvo S80 $36-49,000, VW Phaeton $67-96,000, Lexus LS 430 $56,225, Acura RL $49,100, Mercedes S-Class $65-169,000, BMW 7-Series $71-117,000.

Good News:

Classy, undeniably as smooth a ride as you’ll ever feel, faaaast, great smart cruise control.

Bad News:

Front seats are uncomfortable; sun visors are too short.

Standard Equipment:

4.2 liter 390 hp supercharged V8 engine, 6-speed auto trans, adaptive cruise control, air suspension, speed sensitive steering, power Brembo four piston disc brakes, front and side air bags and side curtain airbags, remote entry and security system, 16 way power driver seat, dynamic stability control, Alpine 320 watt audio system with 7-CD changer, heated front seats and steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, self dim power fold mirrors.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 24 Highway MPG

Pricing: 

MSRP $76,330.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2005 Jaguar XK8 Convertible (531)

Overview:

This week I tested the 2005 Jaguar XK8 Convertible. Ok, so it’s a chick car. You can verify that by looking at the drivers on the road if you don’t believe me. But hey, guys if that’s the case we should be buying a Jag as a good way to attract the ladies. Really! But men are macho and they would opt for a muscle car and the more affordable Corvette is manlier.

I bring up the Vette because I just tested the C6 and loved it. But when it comes to style and class the Jag can’t be ignored. It is far more elegant and refined in looks. Both are effectively 2-seat sport cars even though the Jag has an ultra small back seat. Ok, so I guess in a pinch you can seat children. The fact of the matter is that is exactly what I had to do when daughter Jen and her 7-year-old girl joined me at the Santa Anita racetrack to watch a friends horse run. The horse won and we had our picture taken in the winner’s circle. Quite a thrill. And this Jag is a winner too. It felt good to hear the Valet suggest that on such a beautiful day we should put the top down. Exactly what we did.

Jen had to move really far forward so Cierra’s feet would rest on the floor. Jen is just over 5 feet and with any other combination of passengers it wouldn’t have worked. But with the Vette it would have been totally out of the question anyway.

If I were promoting the Jag I would say the interior is cozy and you can literally reach every nook and cranny front and back from the drivers seat. If I were bad-mouthing the car, the interior would be described as cramped. For sure this is not for large or tall people, but since the average height of a man is 5 foot 9 and a woman at 5 foot 5 there are more than enough buyers.

Handling & Performance:

This Jag ignores a windy road. In fact you tend to look forward to challenging curves – the windier the better. And 294 horsepower gives that confidence on the highway for power when you need it.

Styling: 

Classic Jag.Timeless design. I hope they never change the look. It is distinctive and truly one of a kind.

Fit and Finish:

Very good accented with the luxury feel of real Burl Walnut wood. This is what adds that touch of class and gives it the elegance only the Real Thing provides.

Cost:

A bunch, but relative to other close competitors like the Cadillac XLR without a rear seat, you may find some justification for the price.

Conveniences:

The convertible top is a delight. It is so easy to use and quickly transforms the mood. Drive away door locking is a small but nice touch. Rain sensing windshield wipers are something you won’t miss unless you’ve experienced them.

Consumer Recommendation:

If money is no object and you want a sport car and will have little need for passengers this is a lovely automobile. It is simply as classy and refined as a sport car can get and one you can’t help but be proud to drive.

The Competition:

Jaguar XK8 $70-86,000, Maserati Coupe $81-85,000, Cadillac XLR $76,000, Mercedes Benz SL Class $90-179,000, Lexus SC 430 $63,000, Acura NSX $89,000, Porsche 911 $69-141,000, BMW 6 Series $70-77,000.

Good News: 

Elegant timeless Jaguar styling, great one button convertible top, fun highway handling and important state of the art Stability control feature (all cars should have it).

Bad News:

Annoying door handles, poor foot clearance around the gas and brake pedals, extremely tight rear seating and tough to get in and out of.

Standard Equipment: 

4.2 liter 294 hp V8 engine, 6-speed automatic trans, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, dynamic stability control, speed sensitive steering, anti theft engine immobilizer, front and side airbags, drive away locking, remote entry, security system, memory settings, 320 watt audio system w/ 6 CD changer, burl walnut trim, power top with glass window, rain sensing wipers, reverse parking control.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 26 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $74,830.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2004 Jaguar X-Type 4-Door Sedan (511)

Overview:

This week I was off trekking to the Pacific Northwest again, but this time in a 2004 Jaguar X-Type 4-Door Sedan. Bluer than blue was the color, and that brings to mind lyrics from a song of yesteryear. Can you hear the melody?

Up the central valley of California to its State Capitol – Sacramento, where the romance of pioneer days is still alive in the great state of California. That part of the country explodes with history like the Gold Rush of 1860s, the railroad, the Donner Party and other sacrifices of those from around the world who found their dreams realized in this rugged country. Not far to the east is the spectacular Lake Tahoe that began to blossom at the turn of the 20th Century.

I had dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack on the Sacramento River that snakes from the north and ends up in the Pacific Ocean. As the sun was setting looking west out across the river,  “Old town” became even more charming with its thick wood boardwalk and railroad tracks to make the setting even more original. It conjured up visions of the stories told in books, plays and film that have shaped our lives and remind us of the rich history of this country.

Sacramento comes alive even more with the excitement that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger brings to this community where he and wife Maria have chosen to call home for a while.

The Jaguar journey was smooth and fast and it seemed somehow out of place and in sharp contrast to the setting of horse and buggy memories.

Handling & Performance:

But I thoroughly enjoyed the companionship of this trusty steed, even though it was thirsty all the time. Jaguar presents an elegant and capable presence at any venue. This V6 is surprisingly fast. Most of the time I forgot it was a 5-speed manual transmission and I’d forget to shift until 5th gear just wouldn’t pull the load any longer even with 227 horses.

The All Wheel Drive made handling a dream to compliment the vistas of this beautiful part of America. The road up the central valley has abundant winding roads to allow this Cat to show off its ability to take the curves with such sure footedness.

Styling: 

Jaguar says the X-Type is “inspired by over 70 years of legendary performance and design”. I agree. It is unique in the automotive world. It has lines that are unmistakably Jaguar. And as you look around the highways other carmakers think its design is special and they give the greatest compliment to Jag by copying its look. Buick has been considered the poor mans Jag and Ford Contour has lines that make one wonder if Ford and Jaguar “Had” to get married.

Ok, so this X-Type is a little smaller than the full size Jag, but the price is less than half with the same charm and sex appeal. You gotta love the addition to their lineup.

Fit and Finish:   

Very proper –  mate.

Cost:

So much for needing to buy a knock off when you can buy an X-Type for just $33,000. Jag is making a run at BMW Series and lots of other folks out there. Jaguar is unofficially a ladies car, and now many more will be able to afford to own one. So brace yourselves – men – because your better half will be lobbying to change what’s in your garage. British breeding.

Conveniences:   

… Or in this case, Inconveniences… I’ve got to complain about the seats. I hate to, but they are simply awful. Typically Jag has incorporated thick heavy tough leather that always cracks, so the convenience of leather still has to be cared for. Be sure to buy some Hyde Food and use it often.

Customer Recommendation:

The reasonable price compels you to consider this Jag in this class of cars competing, but the Volvo is a tough contender. Make some points with mom and put one in the garage for her.

The Competition:

Jaguar X-Type $29-34,000, Volvo S60 $30-37,000, Saab 9-3 $26-43,000, BMW 3-Series $28-44,000, Mercedes Benz C-Class $26-51,000, Audi A-4 $26-44,000, Lexus IS 300 $29-31,000, Infiniti G35 $28-33,000, Acura TL $33-35,000, Volkswagen Passat $22-39,000.

Good News:   

Classy, fast, fun to drive and the price is very good for the badge.

Bad News:

Seats are poorly designed and uncomfortable on long trips. Compounded by the hard leather, the shape includes narrow confined space with high cushions that hold you in just a bit to tight. Not very good fuel economy. I found that the published numbers, usually very reliable, are questionable here. On the open road I only got 17 mpg, fully expecting 18 to 25 as represented.

Standard Equipment:   

3.0 liter 227 horsepower V6 engine, 5-speed manual trans, permanent AWD (all wheel drive), power 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, variable ratio power steering, Traction 4 all wheel drive, anti theft engine immobilizer, auto headlights, front and side airbags, remote entry and drive-away locking, 8-way power driver seat, automatic climate control, leather trim seats, moon roof, CD player, split fold rear seat.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 25 Highway MPG. Not!

Pricing:   

MSRP $33,730.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2004 Jaguar XJR Sedan (465)

Overview:

This week it was my pleasure to drive the all-new 2004 Jaguar XJR, which is the flagship of the small fleet of cars from Jaguar. It is not only beautiful, it is spacious and comfy. It won’t cost a million but it will make you feel like a million. When you drive 52 different cars plus per year it takes a lot to impress you. Ok, thanks to Ford Motor Company Jaguar will live well and prosper. And thanks for the ride because I love to drive and I truly appreciate a special car. This Jaguar is special.

As you may know, the XJ series arrived on the scene in 1968 – descendants of the 1950’s to 1960’s S-Type models. In my experience in the auto repair business for nearly two decades, Jaguar was not even a remote candidate as a recommendation to my friends. It wasn’t until Ford Motor Company’s acquisition that I changed my mind. The two companies proved they could fall in love and make beautiful music together. Isn’t love grand?

Handling & Performance:   

Smooth and subtle execution that will impress any performance minded driver. You’re going to love this car – I guarantee it! If speed turns you on – all the better. You are supercharged from 0-60 in under 5 seconds, and it will reach 110 in just a few short heartbeats more. This cat also has paws that grip for sure stops. It leans a little more, in the turns, than I like but it is, after all, a luxury sedan and not a sports car. Ok, so the big luxury Mercedes Benz sedans do better… you got me there.

Styling:

Elegant continues to define Jaguar sedan’s in a breed of its own. They are thoughtfully designed with impeccable assembly that rivals Japanese luxury automobiles. I love the color combination of Racing Green exterior and Sand leather interior. As to the 20” Sepang wheels, they look a little awkward but practically speaking they stick out and catch curbs while parking. Questionable choice. This sedan was completely redesigned for 2004 in its seventh generation. It now features an aluminum frame and body and is considered the most advanced Jag ever made according to the company.

Fit and Finish:

The Brits have always been great in this department and Ford hasn’t changed it. Outstanding.

Conveniences: 

Luxury cars like this Jag will pamper you and you can expect to pay dearly. The Adaptive Cruise Control is a touch of tomorrow, today. I was impressed with this feature on the XKR convertible recently and was thrilled to revisit it. It is a true convenience on the road and comes standard on this model. You will love it on long trips. Another convenience I appreciate is the sensors that aid you in backing up; so parallel parking is made easier. The emergency brake is set electronically with the flip of a switch and is automatically released when you take the transmission out of park. Really nice. This is bound to receive kudos from all and I suspect it will migrate to other cars.

Cost:

Well… luxury has its price and this is among the handful of true world-class luxury cars.

Consumer Recommendation:

There are few cars to choose from when price tags are in the $100,000 range. The closest by comparison is the Mercedes Benz S-Class, which is my favorite of the bunch, but this is a close second. If your wife will be driving the car, you can bet she’ll vote for the Jag. It’s a woman thing. If you want the Sepang wheels you pony up another $4,500.

The Competition:

Jaguar XJ Series $59-75,000, Audi A8 $68,500, BMW 7 Series $68,500, Infiniti Q45 $52-62,000, Lexus LS 430 $55,000, Mercedes Benz S-Class $73-121,000, Volvo S80 $37-48,000.

Good News:

Elegant, powerful, all Aluminum construction, roomy, comfortable, laser controlled cruise control.

Bad News:

Jerky accelerator and grabby brakes.

Standard Equipment:

4.2 liter supercharged 390 hp V8 engine, 6-speed auto trans, air suspension, adaptive cruise control, speed sensitive steering, dual front and side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, dynamic stability control, brake booster, remote entry security system, 16-way power and heated front seats, power adjustable pedals, power fold mirrors, 320 watt alpine audio with 7-CD changer. Optional Navigation system and 20-inch Sepang wheels increase the price by $6,700.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 24 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $74,330.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2003 Jaguar XKR Convertible (459)

Overview:

This week I drove the 2003 Jaguar XKR Convertible on a trip around California. Being on the open road I got a great chance to experience the Adaptive Cruise Control package that was totally impressive. I know some other cars have it but I noticed the improvement since the last one I tested. It is unbelievably accurate. In addition it was equipped with a GPS Navigation system. Some day all cars will use similar technology so you should be able to put it on “Auto Pilot”. The technology is here, but just needs the infrastructure to catch up. Thanks to the folks who can afford to pay the big bucks for development of this kind of technology.

On the stupid side, the car comes equipped with a rear seat but what’s the point? With the front seats in a comfortable position there is virtually no legroom in the back. That’s zero, zip, nada. Without the seats you’d have more luggage room. Go figure.

Nephew Paul rode half way up central California with me and commented that this is definitely a “Chick Magnet”, and for some that’s all it will take to justify the purchase. But from another perspective it truly is a “Chick Magnet” for another reason… this is a car seriously preferred by women. Watch close at who is driving the next 100 Jags and I suspect it is 80% women.

The 2003 Jaguar XK Series is available in four trims: XK8 and XKR, both available as a coupe or a convertible. You’re gonna love this car.

Handling & Performance: 

Awesome would be one adjective, while smooth, cool and elegant would help to define this sports car further. Handling is made easier with the inclusion of the Adaptive Cruise control package. That allows you to set the cruise and the system monitors and maintains the exact distance between you and the car, bus or truck in front of you. It will speed up if the car in front moves out of the way or speeds up, and it will brake when it needs to as traffic slows. It takes very little getting used to and I miss it already now that I’ve moved on to the next test car. I particularly like it because it will watch over you if your mind wanders for that split second that causes so many accidents. It truly makes a magical touring car out of the ordinary.   It has two settings for Sport and Touring suspension.

Styling:

Jaguar has retained its distinctive look for all the years I can remember. There is no mistaking it’s a Jag. This has to be my favorite body style that is so reminiscent of the XKE in the 1960’s.

Fit and Finish:

The walnut burl wood dash is beautiful and it’s real. But you know, you can’t tell it from imitation plastic. That’s a bad thing or good if you consider how imitation component parts like this can be virtually as good as the real thing in appearance. Even if you tap on the surface you can’t really tell the difference. Everything fits well together as you’d expect for a car of this quality.

Conveniences: 

The most obvious is the Adaptive Cruise Control mentioned above, but it also has sensors that tell you when you are close to objects around you. This can be annoying, but if it is you can turn it off. I can’t bitch too much, but I did find it inconvenient that the odometer is not visible while the cruise is on. The other inconvenience was the cup holder that is on the center console must be closed in order to open the storage space beneath.

If you must own a convertible they don’t get any better than this one. The old fashioned days when you knew it was a convertible from the inside are gone. The headliner is so good you wouldn’t know you’re in a convertible. On the other hand the headroom is limited with the top up. The top of the windshield gets in the way for me at 5 foot 9” so taller than that will surely be a problem.

Cost:

Priceeeeeeeeeeey. Ok, so they are out of reach for most of us but you DO get that old feeling of class. That has always been the case, but since Ford took charge you also get much better reliability according to the “Wrenches” I talk with. 

Consumer Recommendation:

If this is in your price range you will want to include the Adaptive Cruise and the GPS Navigation system. And take a look at the Aston Martin for the best comparison for what you get for your money.

The Competition:

Jaguar XK Series $69-86,000, Acura NSX $89,000, Aston Martin DB7 Vantage $142-152,000, BMW Z8 $132-137,000, Lexus SC 430 $62,000, Mercedes Benz SL Class $86-113,000, Mercedes Benz CLK $44-69,000, Porsche 911 $69-182,000.

Good News:

Beautiful styling, powerful supercharged V8, ultra smooth touring ride and one touch power convertible top.

Bad News:

Useless rear seat, average mileage and pricey.

Standard Equipment:

 4.2 liter 32 valve supercharged, intercooled 390 hp V8 engine, 6-speed automatic, dynamic stability control, Brembo abs disc brakes, computer active suspension, dual front and side airbags, remote keyless entry, driveway locking feature, anti theft engine immobilizer and security system, memory settings, burl wood walnut trim, power top with glass rear window, rain sensing wipers and reverse park control and optional Adaptive cruise control package.

Gas Stats:

16 City and 23 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $88,130.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2002 Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas (395)

Overview: 

This week I had the pleasure of testing the 2002 Jaguar XJ8. Cars of this class are hard not to like. They are super comfortable, spacious and elegantly appointed. You’ll find women driving this car much more than men. But what about all that power? Women are much too conservative drivers to appreciate 0-60 in about 6 seconds. Isn’t it just the macho guys that are concerned about mechanical design and performance?

However, even the guys will appreciate special features and devices like the rear sensors to alert you of objects in your path while in reverse. It’s especially handy for parallel parking. I suspect we’ll soon find this as standard equipment on most cars in the near future. The cost is minimal for the benefit. The Infiniti Q45 I’m testing now has a rear view camera to assist in a similar fashion. Although it is impressive, the sensors are easier to use effectively. The only advantage with the video version is the safety provided when backing out of your driveway, for example, where it is comforting to be able to glance at the monitor to see if the kids left a tricycle, bicycle, skateboard, etc. behind your car. Not to mention little kids playing or family pets wandering around.

Handling & Performance:

Vanden Plas has a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V8 engine and you’d have to opt for the XJR to get a supercharged version of the same engine. But performance is excellent in either case. As a side note ABS, anti-lock braking systems, are great but not many drivers know how to use them properly. So I’ll digress a bit to explain ABS. I suggest you read about the use of ABS in your owner’s manual.

In the event of a skid, anti-lock brakes rely on a computer to pump the brakes more rapidly than you could pump them yourself. Using the system means applying firm and steady pressure to the brake. When the ABS kicks in, you will feel a vibration or pulsating sensation on the brake pedal. That indicates the ABS is working properly.

While the ABS is pumping the brakes very rapidly, the wheels will continue turning. This gives you control over the vehicles steering. In other words, you may be able to steer around an obstacle, such as the car in front of you.

Styling:

Some would note that this basic design, with few changes, has been around for several years. It is recognizable as a quietly elegant automobile.

Fit and Finish:

Detailing on this Jag is as beautiful as the women who drive them. And for the most part controls are where they should be, save one – the gas pedal. I wear tennis shoes a lot and have an average size shoe that kept catching on the side carpeting, which was annoying. But then since most will be driven by women with small feet this shouldn’t be a problem.

Conveniences:

If they offer an option for an “Intelligent Cruise Control” on any car you look at, do yourself a favor and test it. It’s great in my opinion. I also like the rear sensing device, but not the TV monitor version.

Cost:

Not a car for the faint hearted when it comes to opening your wallet. But for luxury and prestige, and the fact that only 240 units will be sent to the US, the price will be acceptable to those in the market for this kind of car. True, the badge is expensive when you consider you could go out and buy 5 Saturn’s with different colors for each day.

Consumer Recommendation:

I list the cars in this class below with ranking noted in parenthesis. But if cost is not a consideration, throw those out the power windows. Pricing not considered I would put this Jag number 2 right behind the Mercedes Benz.

Manufacturer Recommendations:

Take another look at the design and placement of the gas pedal.

The Competition:

(6) Jaguar XJ8 $56-78,000, (4) Acura RL $43-45,000, (8) Audi A8 $62-67,000, (7)BMW 7 Series $68-72,000, (5) Cadillac Seville $44-50,000, (1) Infiniti Q45 $50,000, (3)Lexus LS 430 $54,000,(9) Mercedes Benz S-class $72-115,000, (2) Volvo S80 $38-50,000.

Good News:

Super comfort, elegant styling and first class detail work.

Bad News:

Turn signal resembles a Chinese water torture, says the lady. I wouldn’t go that far but it is a little strange. Very pricey and expensive for transportation.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter 290 horsepower V8 engine, 5 speed auto trans, dual and side airbags, ABS brake system, traction control, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, tilt wheel, cruise control, power leather seats, radio with cassette and CD, sunroof, rear window defroster, tachometer, alloy wheels.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 24 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $68,330.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is Joe@atthewheel.com.

2000 Jaguar XKR Coupe (291)

Overview:
This seductively beautiful Jaguar XKR Coupe is a silver bullet that’s easy to fall in love with. Its history is rich but so is the price tag. This car is not for the faint of heart both from a financial standpoint and the rocket performance that can intimidate some folks. It also isn’t for someone who wants or needs lots of room. This is a sports car and irrespective of its elegant stature it is small. So unless you’re in the market for an upscale luxury sports car for two people max, don’t spoil yourself by test driving this one. It’s truly a beautiful automobile and its beauty is more than matched by its graceful performance. The 370-horsepower supercharged AJ-V8 engine takes this coupe from 0-60 in just 5.2 seconds, and 0-100 in 5.6 seconds making the XKR one of the fastest accelerating cars built for the road. It isn’t for the little old lady from Pasadena, unless she’s still riding Harley’s.

The closest car to this in all around feel, in my view, is the Lexus SC400. I found both sophisticatedly smooth in ride and acceleration. I’d have to give the edge to this XKR for acceleration because of the supercharger. It’s not for everyone and some “in the know” automotive experts complain that the car is too well mannered. They say the supercharger is more like a turbocharger in performance. They also say with this kind of luxury car you lose the feel in the drive train which for them is a turn off. Me! I like that about this car and don’t give much weight to that argument. You can’t please everyone.

Handling: 

The suspension is firm, yet comfortable and smooth. You’re going to love the feel around town or on the open road. Especially the open road, because that’s where it purrs like the cat it is. Road noise is almost non-existent and the engine is smooth and well behaved at idle.

Styling:

You’ll to be the judge, but as for me I’m in love.

Fit and Finish: 

Perfect enough for me, too perfect for others.

Conveniences:

More than enough for me, too many for others.

Cost: 

A lot for me, no big deal for others.

Recommendation: 

If a two seat sports car is what you want, money is no object and you want to be 20 again, with a major Itouch of class, this is your car. Finally, I believe it’s a Jag that a man can love and sales should be very good.

The competition: 

Aston Martin DB7 $140-150,000, Acura NSX $84-88,000, Porsche 911 Carrera $65,030, Lexus SC 400 $56,305,  Mercedes Benz CLK $41,600-55,600.

Good News:

On a par with some pretty impressive company. A smooth, sophisticated, awesome performer. Comfortable ride. Elegant interior with an abundance of real burl wood.

Bad News: 

Price range will allow only the few to enjoy this car. Not easy to get in and out of the car. Very small rear seating area and trunk space is very limited. I did get my golf clubs in and a case of bottled water. Not much room.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter supercharged 370 horsepower V8 engine, 5-speen automatic transmission, Front driver and passenger air bags, 4-button remote entry, engine immobilizer which shuts down the engine without computer-coded keys, traction control, stereo sound system with 6-disc CD changer, heated seats, headlight power washers, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Note: the only option available is an integrated navigation system.

Gas Stats:

16 City and 23 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP  $76,800, and the model I tested had the optional navigation system for $2,400.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is movello@earthlink.net.

2000 Jaguar S Type Sedan (273)

Overview: 
This 2000 S Type Jaguar ushers in a new age with even more technology. After all it is the new millennium and the advent of more innovation. Perhaps we’ll start to see some changes in an industry that’s been pretty blah for a lot of years. Most of the improvements over all these years from the model T to now have been subtle and not real noticeable. Engines for example have become rather generic and trouble free. They are no longer a real issue in decision making for the consumer. Transmissions, like kids, as my parents used to tell me, should be seen and not heard. Well, guess what? Now transmissions are quiet and smooth and the kids are real vocal even when rough around the edges. It gives a new meaning to the saying, “hire a teenager while they still know everything.” Electronics are ho-hum in that they always work. I know that’s hard for younger people to appreciate unless they’ve had the opportunity of driving dad’s antique auto. And finally, this Jaguar is no pussycat. Its 4.0-liter engine is fast.

This new 2000 model was first sold in mid-1999 and offers some pretty unique features you will find only on a few high priced cars. Most are enhancements to the performance and also enhance safe driving, like the DSC for Dynamic Stability Control, and C.A.T.S., for Computer Activated Technology Suspension system. Other interesting features include convenience Rain Sensing windshield wipers and an innovative Voice Activation system that doesn’t even have to learn your voice.

Perhaps the most important is the DSC because it helps the driver stay out of trouble by controlling vehicle yaw or movement that can cause over steer. That computer control of brakes and power to the wheels keeps the car going in the drivers intended direction. The second feature for safe driving is the ability to control the radio, CD or tapedeck, temperature and also make a phone call without taking your eyes off the road. “Voice Commands” can be used for these functions by simply pressing a button on the steering wheel and clearly enunciating words and numbers like, “Tune ninety nine point seven FM”. You get an audio confirmation of what you just said and the radio changes band and station. You can also control the tape deck and CD player as well. For the telephone you simply say “Dial [number] and the phone dials for you for hands free operation. For the climate control you can say “Temperature seventy-two degrees” and wa-la the temp setting changes.

At Comdex (the largest computer show in the country each November) in Las Vegas voice control of computers echoed this new Jaguar feature. I suspect “Hal” is now a reality and soon voice control of computers will be taken as much for granted as the car is today. And, of course, just when you think that’s all they can do, voice commands for the car will include “Altitude 500 feet” or “Turn Level to 320 degrees”, etc. Freeways? Who needs freeways? Cal Trans employees better start learning Air Traffic Control skills for the crowded and unfriendly sky’s we’re sure to have sooner than we think.

Ok, back to earth and the real world we still need to deal with. And for the near future you’ll need cars like this S Type Jag to make you FEEL you’re on “cloud 9”. The quality sound system and great insulation from outside noise help to calm you for an otherwise stressful, road rage ride home from the office. It puts you in a whole different world. And what’s even more amazing, it’s a Fooorr’d.

The competition:

2000 Acura RL $42,000, 2000 Audi A6 $33,950-$48,900, 2000 BMW 5-Series $38,900-$53,900, 2000 Cadillac Seville $43,880-$48,480, 2000 Infiniti Q45 $48,895-$50,595, 2000 Lexus GS 300/400 $37,600-$46,000, 2000 Mercedes-Benz E-Class $47-$69,800, 2000 Volvo S80 $36-$40,500

Good News:

Silky smooth ride, quiet, fast, great handling, traditional Jaguar styling, improving quality, neat features and elegant appearance.

Bad News:

Jaguar has historically been poor in quality both in assembly and mechanical design, so the jury is still out as to whether Ford will be a positive influence.

Standard Equipment: 

4.0 liter V8 281 horsepower engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, speed sensitive power steering, traction control, front and side airbags, security system, auto headlights, fog lights, climate control, cruise control, fold down rear seat, power front seats, power tilt steering column, power windows and door locks, computer, real wood trim and steering wheel, leather seating, moon roof, FM stereo with cassette, and alloy wheels.

Gas Stats: 

17 City and 23 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $48,000 and the model I tested included the special communication, sound and weather packages bringing the total to $55,600.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com